CARS THAT MOVE THE NATION

about 5 months ago
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Unlike last year, where there was no major excitement and fervor for the Auto Expo show, this year, the mood is very upbeat. And that in itself should indicate the good tidings ahead as automobiles are indeed the wheels of the economy – they move, the economy moves.

While we were caught up in the Union Budget and the RBI, the Auto Expo was becoming a much bigger event, after all, it holds the promise of being one of the biggest auto events of the year. The Indian Auto Expo is being looked upon as the event which could shape the auto industry of the country this year and ahead; with a slew of 60 new car launches, a bevy of electric cars, cars which are BSVI complaint, expectations are immense. If this one auto show could build hopes, surely an Expo which has the entire world – some 30 countries are participating, means a direct spike up in economic activity, building up to the event.  

In good times, Expos are just another thing but when the chips are down, Expos hold more relevance as it helps promote a national identity, spur industrial progress and when held on a world stage, becomes a unique platform for international dialogue, for public diplomacy and for international cooperation. And that explains why so much hinges on the Auto Expo in Delhi.

Those in the industry say that there is a lot of pent up demand in the country and this expo could probably let loose that demand. There is a study which says that 26% of those who visit the Expo, end up buying a new car.  But that is indeed being too optimistic as nothing can wish away hard-hitting ground realities of rising inflation, falling value of rupee, formidable cost of petrol and an overall sense of ‘down’. It looks like people would currently rather sit on the cash than spend it – that is the amount of uncertainty. Things are surely better than 2019 but we are not yet out-of-the-woods.

The Indian auto sector, instead of sitting this out like a coward has decided to face the slowdown, head-on. It is using the opportunity of this slowdown to increase bets on India with increased investments and more new models; they hope to cash-in on the recovery curve. Most global car makers remain extremely optimistic about India. Thus given the significance of India on the world auto map in the future, every global auto company worth its name in salt wants to have a footprint in India.

Well, having said all this, does this mean that the Auto Expo will miraculously spur on the auto sector; will people suddenly give in to their pent-up demand and start buying? No, that is most certainly not likely to happen. People will visit the expo in droves, given the glitz and glamour it now attracts. But that’s it – it will be a curiosity factor, a show which will not loosen any purse strings or spur demand. For that to happen, things on the economic front have to first change and that will take some time. Yet for all its worth, enjoy the show!

This year the theme of the show is SUV and not the hatchback, right from the regular fuel to electric, hybrid and

Cars/bikes to look forward to at the expo:

  • Maruti Suzuki is huge this year – 17 cars to be shown-off while the most eagerly awaited one is the Futuro-E, a compact SUV EV to take on Tata’s Nexon EV. There is also the Jimny – this is something which all have been talking about. But what we will see at the Expo is a Japanese imported model and based on the response, it will take a decision about its commercial launch. There is also the ‘facelifted’ Bretza and an all-new Nexa version of the Wagon R, currently named at XL5.
  • Hyundai took away all the limelight with the launch of its Creta, done by its 2 decade old brand ambassador, Shah Rukh Khan. A facelifted Verna and of course the launch of Grand i10 Nios.
  • Tata Motors big one is the 7-seater Gravitas, a little longer than the Harrier. It is also showcasing the production version of Tata H2X.
  • Mahindra has some 80 cars lined up with electric versions of XUV500 and XUV 300. There was much anticipation for the eKUV 100, the ‘affordable’ EV, which was unveiled yesterday at a price tag of Rs.8.25 lakh.
  • Renault’s level-4 self driving car, Symbioz will be a huge draw – this is expected to attract the maximum eye balls.
  • Paiggio India’s scooter, EVs from start-ups Olectra and Evolet, MG Motors Hector Plus are some of the other big draws.
  • There new entrants this year are  - Great Wall Motors from China, FAW which is part of the Bird group, EVerve, Devot Motors and Nahak Motors.  

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